Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 2nd Feb 2010 23:25 UTC, submitted by Chicken Blood
Apple The beauty of the internet is such that every opinion has become worthless; this goes doubly so for those with publish buttons on (relatively, we're humble) major websites. For every opinion, there's a matching counter-opinion, and that's great. Yesterday, we linked to an article by Mark Pilgrim about tinkerers and the iPad, and of course, someone was bound to disagree with that one.
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Half right
by earksiinni on Wed 3rd Feb 2010 04:38 UTC
earksiinni
Member since:
2009-03-27

The problem with Pilgrim's commentary is that he's linked tinkering to creativity. It's true that the iPad poses a threat to the great tinkering tradition that's built the computer industry so far. Ironically, so do the products of Pilgrim's employer Google, especially Chrome OS, which does for data what Apple has done for a computer's processing power; namely, both Apple and Google have abstracted these two resources from the user in the name of user friendliness. Abstraction and isolation of the user from the resource run counter to the nature of computer software, in which the design is the product, an aspect unique to software engineering. Altering the design (i.e., a program's C code) effectively means changing the program and thus creating something altogether new. Thus, tinkering has been a traditionally popular entry into the world of computers for countless legions of programmers, system designers, and hackers.

What the iPad et al. do (let's include the Kindle and other devices) is discourage tinkering, but the will of children to destroy should not be underestimated. I don't doubt Pilgrim when he implies that such devices would kill off tinkering, but I think that they also have the potential to introduce the design/implementation split present in most other arts and crafts, thus forcing children to be even more creative. Frustrated with their family's iPad(s), they won't consider reprogramming them, but rather they'll go to Radio Shack and pick up an electronics lab kit to make their own computers from scratch--in fact, that's what I've started to do.

The original OSNews link to Pilgrim's article inspired me to write more about the abstraction trend on my own blog at http://www.whatdigitalrevolution.com/?p=91. Feel free to check it out!

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